Being Beloved

Rob and Me

Son-in-Law Rob and Me. May, 2012. Hawaii. 


Who Loves You, Baby? 

Sometimes I’m so oblivious. As of  June, I’ve been blogging here for five years. Five years. That’s a long time; three of our grandlittles are younger than this blog. This past weekend, when I prepared a post and selected categories to tag, I realized that of the dozens and dozens of categories I’ve accumulated over five years, loved is conspicuously absent. 

Over this half a decade, I have never one time considered the difference between love and lovedNo. I have been intellectually sloppy and never prodded with a stick  the very distinct differences between loving and being loved.

Some folks say love is an emotion. Others say it is a verb–an action. Better thinkers than I have covered this ground, turning it over with a spade and looking for any lively colonies of creatures animating and enriching the discussion like so many industrious earthworms. These wise folks have determined that love is both. Okay, fine.

But what about the distinction between loving and being loved? It’s not a kiss-your-sister style tie.

I  invite us to contemplate those differences. Love can be that squishy-tummy sensation you felt the first time your junior-high crush smiled at you. It can be that engulfing sense that you would gladly battle all the zombies in the netherworld to keep one squirming, squalling, diaper-soiling, toothless baby safe from any possible harm. Love can be the satisfying sense of fullness you have after a long-overdue lunch with your best friend. It can be that quietly insistent devotion that you feel towards an aging parent, or the simple pleasure of a phone call with a sibling who lives far away. And of course it can be that completing, contented sense of wonder you enjoy as you watch your spouse playing with the dog or balancing the checkbook or any one of a gazillion mundane things one sees one’s spouse doing.

Being loved is a whole different matter. It is conceding to someone else’s ludicrous overestimation of your value. It is relishing the finest breakfast ever: burnt toast and nearly-raw eggs served on a tray on Mother’s Day. It is accepting praise with grace and dignity. It is holding someone else’s heart in your bare hands and handling it with as much care and tenderness as you would, say, a hand grenade with a pulled pin. 

Being loved is all about being accepted, and resting  in that acceptance. While the Bible reminds us that loving God and loving one another are our most important tasks, it is still worth thinking about the responsibility of being the object of God’s affection, which the Bible tells us over and over and over is the case.

Thank you for reading as I think through this. What can you tell me about your understanding of being loved, distinct from lovingWhat does it mean to acknowledge that the God who built the universe loves you? 

rabbit conga


Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  

1 John 4:7-11 (NASB)


  1. Okay, first of all, I just have to say: I love the bunnies! So cute!

    You’re right: there’s a difference/distinction, because some people are great at loving and terrible at being loved. It crashes the cart every durn time, which proves the two are linked. 🙂

    • Thanks, Brandee. That’s Stuart (and Stuart with his cloned selves in the conga line).

      You raise a very good point. I was thinking, too, of anyone whose tender feelings have ever been spurned–more evidence about the unique quality of being loved. And also, it makes me think in a new way of how God might feel when He is rejected. Except I tremble to even write those words that suppose I might know something about how God–the God of the UNIVERSE–feels.

  2. What a fantastic distinction you have drawn. To simply rest in that fact that we are loved by God — and by others — is the most peaceful feeling in the world.

  3. This is the tender spot, sometimes the most difficult spot – believing and resting in the truth that we are loved, as is, right now. Thanks for this good reflection on that truth, Sheila.

Leave a Comment